With Crystal Palace having to cope with a genuine injury crisis in recent weeks, their manager Roy Hodgson has worked wonders by amassing a run of just two defeats in 15 games and now he’s disclosed some positive news on the fitness of Jeffrey Schlupp.
The former Leicester man had been expected to be out until mid-April when he first sustained his injury away to Brighton back in January but now, the gaffer seems confident of the Ghanaian reaching full fitness in March instead, offering some extra cover for Patrick van Aanholt and Pape Souare on the left-hand side.
Whilst Van Aanholt has performed extremely well in recent weeks, Schlupp’s return to the side would potentially free up the Dutchman to play in a more advanced role on the left wing, in the absence of Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha. Against Newcastle last Sunday, Pat was providing a real threat in the final third, prompting me to think that any system which allows him to bomb forward without the same degree of defensive responsibility may work well.
Of course, we’d all rather have a fully fit Wilfried Zaha occupying the left winger’s spot but with Bakary Sako also sidelined for the foreseeable future, the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers” is catapulted to the front of my mind.
With a trip to face Big Sam’s Everton at Goodison Park on the immediate horizon we’ll be forced to field a Premier League XI that doesn’t include the aforementioned Zaha for the first time in months, making Patrick’s job all the more important on Merseyside. You would hope that he’ll take the good form he’s enjoyed in recent weeks and run with it against the Toffees but you really can never be sure as to how he’ll perform from week to week.
Thankfully, we retain the services of the aforementioned Pape Souare as a reserve on the left-hand side of defence, giving Roy Hodgson some peace of mind but there’s nothing to be gained from attempting to sugar-coat the mess we currently find ourselves in when it comes to squad depth.
With a two-week gap set to come after this weekend’s trip to the north west, Roy and his coaching staff will be relieved men; all we can do now is cross our fingers and hope that we don’t receive any more bad news in the next few days.